The ruling party candidate was declared the winner of Niger’s historic presidential runoff

Nigerian ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum has won the presidential election with 55.75 percent of the vote, beating former president Mahamane Ousmane, the election commission said on Tuesday.

Opposition candidate Ousmane won 44.25 percent, said Issaka Souna, chairwoman of the Niger National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), in a statement issued by senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

“(These) results are preliminary and must be brought before the Constitutional Court for assessment,” Souna said.

After winning the first round in December by 22 points over Ousmane, Bazoum was supported by the candidates in third and fourth place in Sunday’s runoff.

The vote marks the first transition in the Sahel nation from one democratically elected leader to another following Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou’s decision to resign after two five – year terms.

On the campaign track, Bazoum promised continuity with Issoufou’s policy – and even hired Issoufou’s son as his campaign manager.

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His opponent, Ousmane, on the other hand, threw himself as a candidate for change, focusing on corruption allegations, particularly on the Department of Defense’s handling of contracts.

Security is an important issue in a country affected by two of Africa’s deadliest conflicts – one near its western border with Mali and Burkina and another near its southeastern border with Nigeria.

Election workers killed in explosion of landmines

Just before the results of the runoff were announced on Tuesday, Ousmane’s campaign claimed widespread fraud, including the theft and stuffing of ballot boxes and threats against voters. It provided no evidence for the allegations.

“We demand the immediate suspension of the publication of these results, which in no way take into account the expressed will of the Nigerian people for change,” Ousmane’s campaign manager said in a statement.

Outside Ottoman’s campaign district and in other parts of the capital, Niamey, his supporters protested by burning tires. Police fired tear gas to disperse them.

The vote was also distorted by two attacks that killed eight people in two regions of the country where Islamist militants are active, said Commission President Souna.

Seven of the victims were election workers in the western Tillabery region, near the border with Mali, whose vehicles hit a landmine as they went to the polls.

( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)